Eliminating big plays on Cowboys' D list

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys' defenders showed up for work on Monday after beating the New York Giants 36-31 in the opener, they were not greeted with a lot of congratulations.

They did receive a quick congratulations on forcing five of the six takeaways, but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin pointed to the six pass plays of more than 20 yards they allowed, including four in the fourth quarter.

In the past, the deficiencies might not have been talked about as much.

“To me, I feel like winning brings them out, because they look at where, ‘Yeah, you got a win, but what did they do wrong?’” DeMarcus Ware said. “That’s what we really harped on this week on some of the big plays that we gave up. We didn’t really talk about how many turnovers we had or how much pressure we got. We talked about the big plays that we gave up, and we can’t play that type of defense.”

The Cowboys are not only learning what they can do in Kiffin’s scheme, but also what they can’t do.

“Definitely the big plays, we need to eliminate,” linebacker Bruce Carter said. “We’ve got to get that communication-wise with the secondary and just make sure everybody is on the same page.”

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has just one multiple-interception game in his last 31 starts. He might not have the variety of weapons Eli Manning has in New York, but he has Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery, who can beat the Cowboys on slants the way the Giants did.

“We feel like we’re not going to get beat with slants and it’s up to us to get up there,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “If they get a slant that’s fine, make the tackle, eliminate the big play and that’s something that we control. We control our own effort out here, ‘OK they caught the slant, but we make a tackle and it’s a 5-yard gain as opposed to a 15-, 20-yard gain, a big breakout play.’ But like I said, there’s things we can tweak. We’re still learning as we go right now. This is our first year in the system and this is essentially game No. 6 that we’ve been playing against pretty much live bullets.”